Photo: Tore H. Røyneland / Henie Onstad Archive
Many people remember the monumental presentation of the works of Abakanowicz at Høvikodden. Nonetheless the smell of them.
In the 1960’s Abakanowicz created a series of monumental pieces made by different fibres. She worked with sisal, horsehair and strong cordage. This required a new artistic expression. Abakanowicz parted with the traditional conventions of tapestry and created a new tendency in the European art of textiles. She did not only make tapestry but also sculptures of textiles, hanging freely from the ceiling in relation to the room.
Abakanowicz had two solo exhibitions in Norway in the 1960’s and 1970’s. She also participated as part of the Moderne polsk billedvev exhibition at Kunstindustrimuseet in Oslo in 1965. At Henie Onstad in December of 1977 she presented Magdalena Abakanowicz. Organic Structures. The exhibition was extensive and 58 pieces were shown in the Prisma Rooms. It was an exhibition remembered by many and it created a lot of attention. From the exhibition, Henie Onstad purchased Brown Coat (1968) and received Head (1976) as a gift from the artist. Brown Coat was showcased many places in the 1970’s. The exhibition history is an example of Abakanowicz’s international presence at the time.
Abakanowicz had a great influence on Norwegian textile artists in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It was far from ordinary for female textile artists to have big solo exhibitions in Norway in the 1960’s. At the same time, her large format, her confidence and belief in her own power of expression was new among contemporary women. To be a woman and to think big was not common at that time. Luckily some did it anyway.
Words: Caroline Ugelstad